Meet Olivier Dufour


Q. What defines you the most as a person?

"I would describe myself as a humane, organized, and disciplined person, but above all, as someone for whom family is very important. I want to be there for my family, and that automatically requires a certain level of discipline. With the role I have, it means arriving early in the morning, having good work organization to finish on time to pick up my kids from school, as that is very important to me. Quick like that, I think that's how I'd describe myself" - he adds with a laugh.

Q. When did you know you wanted to become an architect?

OD: "I knew I wanted to be an architect when I completed my college diploma in architectural technique," he says, laughing. "It wasn't always clear to me. I did my college studies, and by the third and final year, I still wasn't convinced it was what I wanted to do. Because I was uncertain, and to keep my options open, I chose to take complementary courses in natural science mathematics. Eventually, I applied to several universities, both for engineering and architecture, and got accepted everywhere. Following the advice of one of my college professors, who encouraged me to follow my gut rather than my head, I ultimately decided to pursue architecture at Université Laval, and it was the best decision I could have made. It's also where I met several of my current colleagues. Looking back, it was the right choice for me."

Q. Can you tell us more about your educational and professional background?

OD: "During my bachelor's degree in architecture at Laval University, I had the opportunity to spend a semester abroad at the National Institute of Applied Sciences (INSA) in Strasbourg, France. INSA, where architecture, engineering, and geomatics converge, provided me with a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with other disciplines, an amazing experience that lasted for 6 months. I then did an accelerated Master's degree in Montreal, to be closer to my family and my partner, while working in an architectural firm. Looking back, I'm not quite sure how I managed all of it," he adds, laughing. "I then worked for 10 years in an firm close to Montreal where I gained great experience, particularly in the public and municipal sectors. These experiences shaped my character and enhanced my abilities in terms of discipline, organization, and efficiency. In search of new challenges, I joined LemayMichaud in the spring of 2021 and became a partner in January 2022."

Q. What is your favorite phase of a project?

OD: "It's funny, but the older I get, the more I appreciate the construction phase of a project. I enjoy being in the action, dealing with general contractors, finding solutions to problems that arise, talking to subcontractors, and so on. When you're on a construction site, seeing things come together and ideas materialize, you gain invaluable insights that influence how you approach projects in the future. This is important because even if you have the best ideas, you need to be able to create details that are practically achievable. To do so, to find a good solution, you need to understand how a construction site operates. Otherwise, because of my technical background, I particularly enjoy delving into the details of ideas and concepts."

Q. Where do you find your inspiration for each project?

OD: "I find inspiration for a project in my relationship with the client. While I have a passion for architecture, with age, I've come to realize that my foremost passion is for people – talking to them, understanding their needs, and building connections. If we don't do the project for our client, if we don't understand them well, we miss the mark on our project. It's essential to be able to grasp their vision and mission, and then translate them into a unique project that aligns with that specific vision."

Q. What qualities do you think an architect needs in 2024?

OD: "In a similar vein to the corporate values of LemayMichaud, I believe that being humane is essential; it's a crucial quality. You also have to be rigorous, disciplined, and organized. We work in a profession that is highly regulated legally, so I believe these qualities are necessary to be a good architect."

Q. Is there an architectural movement that you prefer?

OD: "Ten years ago, I probably would have answered differently, but today, I would say the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Architects still played a predominant role during that time and were involved in every stage of a project, down to the smallest detail. There was also a certain prestige, attention to detail, and high quality of materials during that period."

Q. What is the most significant project you have undertaken as an architect?

OD: "The most significant project of my career to date is the Habitations Paul-Pratt Le Manoir project, a seniors' residence in Old Longueuil. It's one of the first projects I worked on once I got out of school, and it's a project of significant importance. We had to restore a building constructed in 1890 that had undergone expansion in the 1930s and 1950s. This project, which ran from 2012 to 2017, enabled me to witness all the phases, issues and problems that can arise during the realization of a project and on a building site. What's more, social housing involves a very important human aspect, and it's precisely this dimension of the practice, the human aspect, that makes this project stand out for me."

Q. What would you say to someone who wants to become an architect?

OD: "I would advise them to experiment, explore related fields, and also gain experience relevant to what we do. We don't realize how much we can learn and how it can benefit our profession. That might be one of the first pieces of advice I would give. While I was studying, I worked as a building inspector for the city of Longueuil. Working in urban planning, then in building inspection, provided me with immense knowledge about how regulations function in a city, the political workings, and the project approval process. These are not necessarily things you learn in school, but they are integral to our daily practice. Having these related experiences can be very relevant, in my opinion."

Quick Q&A

Develop or create? Develop

Dreamer or realist? Realist

What motivates you to get up in the morning? People

Favorite part of your job? Meeting people and building connections

Do you have a philosophy that guides you every day? Discipline, honesty and rigor

Black and white or colors? Black and white

Mies van der Rohe or Frank Gehry? Mies van der Rohe

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